By Marcus Leach

The wise decision to scrap plans to increase toll charges at the Dartford Crossing until after April 2012 is a boost to households and retailers ahead of Christmas.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) had urged ministers not to pile extra costs on families or firms at a time of high inflation and low wage growth. The proposed increases would have placed further transport costs on retailers at a time when they are battling to keep prices down for consumers. There could also have been a fall in customer numbers at the Bluewater and Lakeside shopping centres.

"I'm delighted the Transport Secretary has listened to us. This is the right decision. An increase would have been another unwelcome cost pressure on top of so many others and especially damaging in the run-up to Christmas. The Dartford Crossing is one of the most important pieces of the UK road network and the impact of the higher charges would have been felt by thousands of firms and families," British Retail Consortium Director of Business, Tom Ironside, said.

"Any additional cost is a substantial hurdle when people's budgets are so delicately balanced. The Government should show similar restraint when future toll increases are considered, both here and elsewhere.

"Escalating transport costs are responsible for much of the inflation which the UK is currently battling. The Chancellor should give households further help when he delivers his Autumn Statement next week by scrapping next year's planned increases in fuel duty as well."

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